New report: Two million pounds of toxic waste released into California waterways in 2020

Toxic waterway pollution continues to pose a dangerous threat to public health and marine life in California

Toxic threats

Dow Chemical facility in Freeport, TX

A new report by CALPIRG Education Fund finds that polluters continue to dump toxic waste into our California waterways fifty years after the Clean Water Act promised to clean them up. Using data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), the report finds that over two million pounds of toxic substances were released into the state’s waterways in 2020 alone.  

Findings from the report include:

  • In California, the watersheds that received the greatest amounts of toxic pollution were Suisun Bay in Martinez and San Gabriel in El Segundo.
  • Petroleum refineries are California’s top toxic waterway polluters.
  • Martinez Refining Co. LLC. released over 800,000 pounds of toxic substances into California’s waterways—the highest volume from any single facility in the state—rendering Suisun Bay the most polluted in the state.
  • Since some chemicals pose more risk to human health than others, the EPA uses a tool to measure relative toxicity. The report finds that Chevron Products Co. contributes the highest level of toxicity to California waterways: the San Gabriel river watershed in particular.

The toxic substances found in our waterways include chemicals known to cause cancer, reproductive problems, and developmental issues. They also damage the health of marine wildlife. 

Read the full report here.

Nina Dang
Nina Dang

Former Campaign Associate, CALPIRG


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